Getting more bang for your buck: how to work with your copywriter

Finding the right copywriter isn’t easy. Will they really understand what you do? Will they ‘get’ your brand? Would you be better off writing it yourself? And, once you’ve chosen a writer or team, how can you get the most from them? Here are our top tips for finding a writer and getting the results you want.

Step 1: Do your research
It sounds obvious, but ask around. The best writers may not be the ones who shout loudest or have the highest profile. If you like a brand’s style, do a bit of detective work. Who are they working with? Do they have in-house writers or do they work with an agency? We’ve found that our longest and strongest relationships almost always come through recommendations.

Step 2: Give them a try
Have you written anything for the [insert obscure business area] sector? Do you know anything about flux-function-multi-micro-processor-server technology? Often the answer is ‘no’. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn and get up to speed very quickly.

Rather than dredging up examples from the depths of our portfolio, we prefer to draft some sample copy. Give us a small section to rewrite and we’ll show you what we can do. This will give you a far better idea of our writing than seeing anything we’ve done before.

Step 3: Share a good brief
You get out what you put in. So make sure you spend plenty of time at the start briefing your writer. Listen to what they need. Be collaborative. Give them focused messages, not reams of documents to sift through. And be open-minded. Your writer may have ideas that go beyond just the words on the page. If you don’t already have one, we’ll happily share our briefing proforma.

Step 4: Be realistic
If possible, give deadlines that allow your writers a bit of thinking space. While we can do amazing things in half a day (and sometimes even half an hour), the best writing does take time. Ideally, we like to give projects the ‘overnight test’ and pass the copy around our team for additional ideas, input and proofing.

Step 5: Constructive criticism
Any good writer will be happy to amend, tweak and tinker with their draft. Just make sure you’re giving them clear, constructive feedback. Wherever possible, be specific: do we need to change the messages or tone of voice? Is it a word or phrase that jars? Is there something missing or are we saying too much?

If you do encounter a difficult writer (and sparks start to fly) don’t despair. Remember, remember, that somewhere out there is a writing team that’s right for you. If you need any suggestions, we’d be happy to help.